The scientists have claimed to have unfolded the mystery behind the evolution of rabbits, saying they have got crucial leads that could explain about the genetic changes that the wild rabbits had undergone to get transformed into domesticated forms.
Plant and animal domestication has been the most significant technological revolutions in human history. The domestication of animals began about 9,000 to 15,000 years ago. Dogs, cattle, goats, pigs and ships were the main animals domesticated by our ancestors. And the rabbits were started being domesticated much later at monasteries in southern France about 1,400 years ago.
According to the scientists, the genes responsible for controlling the brain development and the nervous system undergone changes that finally led to rabbit domestication.
For the study, the researchers first carried genome sequencing of one domestic rabbit so as to create a reference assembly. After this, the researchers carried re-sequencing of entire genomes of six different breeds of domestic and wild rabbits. They were sampled at 14 different places across southern France and the Iberian Peninsula.
The researchers found that the wild rabbits have a very strong flight response in comparison to domestic rabbits. This feature helped them remaining very vigilant and reactive to survive in the wild environment.
According to the researcher, the rabbit domestication primarily occurred following alteration of the frequencies of gene variants already present in their wild ancestors.
The researchers concluded that they were the small genetic changes rather than the drastic ones leading to the domestication of rabbits.
In the study, the researchers also focused on how rabbits were domesticated and also tried to find out the domestication of other animals. Besides, the study also sheds light on the process leading to revolutionizing of agricultural practice and paved way for human civilization.
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Science.